By Sarah Mann

Elm Staff Writer

In 2015, I think it is safe to say that most college students are at least aware of the existence of feminism. Yet “slutty” Halloween costumes and the controversy surrounding them are far from irrelevant.

Were the 2000s the peak of slutty costumes, or does it just seem that way to me because of my age? I honestly have no clue how prevalent these kinds of costumes were when our parents were teenagers, but they seem to be a pretty big deal in so many movies from my childhood. It seems like somewhere in between 2000 and 2010, calling girls out for wearing slutty costumes became one of Hollywood’s favorite jokes.

You can’t talk about slutty Halloween costumes in movies without talking about “Mean Girls,” at least not in our generation. When Cady shows up to the party in a “zombie ex-wife” costume in all its gruesome glory, only to find that all her friends have dressed up as “sexy” animals—i.e., their costumes are lingerie and headbands with ears on them—we’re not only meant to laugh, but also sympathize. We’re meant to see, for the hundredth time in the movie, how superficial and shallow “the Plastics” are. In contrast, Cady is down to earth and relatable. She’s just like us. Right?

That being said, there’s nothing inherently vapid or superficial about wearing a “slutty” or revealing costume. Just the fact that so many women feel that they can only wear revealing clothing that they enjoy on one day out of the year—the one day that we all pretend to be someone or something we’re not—says a lot about our culture’s fear of female sexuality. If it weren’t for the shame that so many women endure for wearing skin-baring or fitted clothing in their everyday lives, let alone the shame women around the world are made to feel simply for existing and being women, then there would be no reason for Halloween in particular to be a day that women dress so much differently.

Which is why my take on slutty Halloween costumes is that you should wear one if you want to, without fearing the judgment of others. It’s true that not everyone in the world is going to share this view, but maybe if more smart, self-confident women feel free to wear whatever costumes (or everyday clothing) they want, the harder it will be for people to stereotype revealing-costumes (or clothing)-wearers as desperate or any other characteristic that really doesn’t have anything to do with clothes. All people, women included, deserve to be recognized for the complex and dynamic human beings they are. To judge one’s character based on an outfit is just incredibly simplistic.

This Halloween, I encourage everyone to be less judging of others as well as to stop fearing the judgment of others.

The Elm

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